The Master Plan

As we move towards the summer — and, even more, towards the fall when a lot of language courses start up — I’ve been brainstorming how I’ll promote the worksheet generator. It’s not something I’m naturally good at, but I rationalize that means it’s an area where I can grow the most.

So far, two things are clear to me: 1) I can’t afford to buy every click I get on Google 2) I need to increase the rate at which people who do click through to my site create free accounts and experiment with them.

That brings me to step one:

Finish the worksheet generator

It’s an obvious step and will mean a bunch of small changes, tweaks to the interface, and walkthrough videos. I hope to fix the one thing I’m aware of going wrong, as well as to add an extra review activity.

Basically, this step addresses part two up above: before I start really pushing people towards the website, I want it to be as ready as possible to wow them with its functionality.

On the topic of pushing people towards the website, that brings me to the next step (which isn’t necessarily chronologically next — I can do these things in parallel).

Make two free websites

That’s right. In order to promote what I hope will be a paid website, I think it makes sense to make two more free websites. These should attract English teachers and ‘prepare’ them to want to see great vocab worksheets.

Here is the idea:

The New Spork City Website

I have already moved the stories I wrote for EFL students to their own website, called New Spork City. (If you never read the stories, New Spork City is the fictional setting.) This website should serve several purposes:

  1. Get me to keep writing the stories. I use them, and I can’t write them week-by-week just in time for a class. I have to set aside time to sit down and make the stories.
  2. Let me showcase the worksheets. Using the worksheet generator, I’m creating vocab worksheets that could be passed out in parallel to the stories. Naturally, these will be amazing on their own, but I’m hoping they’ll be an argument for creating tailor-made worksheets for your groups.
  3. Let me showcase the other resources. I don’t think I personally would invest class time playing a memory game based on a reading activity, but the website will give me a chance to show the resources it can make.
  4. Let me promote a free website. Having a free website means I could add it to lists that are only for free resources. Or, I could upload a few stories to worksheet-sharing sites with links back to the New Spork City site.

A blog for teachers in Germany

I don’t know if I really have time to commit to a second blog (third, if you count New Spork City, which has a blog component), but I rationalize that I could pre-write articles and commit to an article-per-week plus things like conversation topics/games.

Here are the goals that I think this could help me accomplish:

  1. Promote the worksheet generator, of course. After all, teachers who come to a blog with teaching tips are probably more open to learning about new resources. What’s more, I couldn’t find a list of online resources for teachers in Germany. I could make (and be on the top of) that list.
  2. Push me to get some stuff done. That is to say, there are activities and ‘teacher documents’ that would make more sense to host on a site for teachers as opposed to on the specific New Spork City site. Having a site that needs content might push me to get it done.
  3. Push me to learn and do some of the things I want to learn and do. It might surprise you to know that I’m not a perfect teacher, but there are things I could improve at. Researching, practicing and writing about those things for a blog would be a great way to improve. That’s in addition to the fact that writing about the things I do think I know will make me understand them better.
  4. Give me a second free website to promote. This is the same as point four above (and it’s point four, here!) It’s not a high priority, but I think that it could be part of a sustainable model for the worksheet generator, to have things that I give away for free as well as a service I provide for money.

That certainly seems like enough, doesn’t it?

So, in addition to finishing the one website I’ve been working on for years, I’m looking at making two more. I get that it seems absurd.

However, most of the work for the two websites can be divided into two categories: initial setup work that has to be done once, and then stays done; and work like writing stories, making worksheets and classroom activities that I would do either way, and which I might do a little better if I knew it was for an ‘international audience’ and ‘promotional purposes.’

I’ll check in again soon.

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The Amateur Entrepreneur

I’ve decided to combine several ideas under a single heading: “The amateur entrepreneur.” It should summarize the idea that 1) I don’t want to pretend to know what I’m doing, 2) I believe entrepreneurship is — like everything else — something that can be learned, 3) that it’s something I’d like to one day be good at.

Maker vs Entrepreneur

There was a time when I aspired to the title ‘maker’ (I still aspire to the title finisher). I romanticized — and continue to romanticize — people who can create (seemingly from nothing) the things they think up.

I think I’m good at thinking up. I’m constantly coming up with ideas that would be great, and I’ll talk them out with students and often they’ll end with “I think you have a good business case.”

But, seldom do I actually even start work on the things I’m interested in (have a look at my projects page). And, when I do, I have yet to declare anything finished.

maker, I think, would have stuff finished by now.

An entrepreneur is a level above a maker. An entrepreneur in my usage is someone who can not only make the things he or she thinks up, but fit them into a structure — whether social, or economic, or whatever — such that they serve a purpose and are adopted.

A maker makes. An entrepreneur makes meaning.

The short-term plan

I’ll write about the long-term plan soon enough. There’s one in the offing. However, as I look at this, an entrepreneur is the level above maker. And, before I can work seriously on the title of entrepreneur, I need to become a maker.

So, my short term plan is to turn Dynamic EFL into a finished product. Or, one that is finished enough to begin using it as the foundation of my entrepreneurial activities.

To that end, there are some things I need:

  • Better user management
    • User accounts should expire, and I should have the ability to prolong them. (The simple version of memberships)
  • Better resource addition
    • The way resources are added needs to be improved (it could be much faster)
    • The tools needed to add resources by location should be added. (So that I can add them as users from a location join — rather than preemptively adding resources for every location in Germany.
  • An updated (finished) landing page which makes it clear what the system does in as little text as possible.
  • A self-explanatory interface

None of those are big projects, and, when they’re finished, I’ll declare the system finished. I will have become a maker.

And then I’ll be able to begin taking my first steps on the path towards entrepreneurship.